wine

All posts tagged wine

7 not so traditional ways to prepare yourself for Christmas

Published November 27, 2014 by The Feminist

Now that we have had Halloween and Thanksgiving, we can start to look forward to the most festive of holidays: Christmas

There are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for Christmas – like buying presents, decorating your house and listening to Mariah Carey’s notorious earworm- but I decided to look past the clichés (well, sort of anyway) and give you a list of all the other not so traditional ways to get ready for the Holidays.

  • Dance around the house in your PJ’s

I’m not sure why this reminds of Christmas, actually. Maybe it’s the PJ’s. Maybe it’s the dancing. Maybe it’s both. I just know that if you spend half an hour dancing like a complete and utter doofus, suddenly the entire Christmas season will not seem so crazy after all.

Plus: it is just so much fun! You should try it, dear readers

.prepare for xmas

prepare for xmas1

  • Drink hot chocolate, red wine and eggnog

Maybe it is not advisable to drink all of the above at once– because throwing up in a bucket is anything but a great way to kick off the X-mas season – but if you want to, I’m not going to stop you. Just Let me know how it turns out.

red wine

  • Light your house with a thousand candles

Okay, so maybe this is one of those Christmas clichés, but there is simply no getting around it. Because everything starts with candles! It creates warmth, encourages love and friendship and if you opt for the scented version your house will smell heavenly too.

  • Watch this video of a cute dog wearing a teddy bear costume and running on a treadmill

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. A dog. Dressed as a teddy bear. Doing a workout. On a treadmill.

Why would I want to watch it, you ask? Well, cuz it’s darn awesome! But also because watching this video has a very therapeutic effect on body and soul.

First of all, try watching this without starting to oooh and aaaah because of the dog’s insane cuteness. Seriously, watching this has suddenly made me want to throw a pre-Christmas My Little Pony-themed slumber party.

I wish I were joking, but I’m not.

Secondly, this cute dog might actually inspire you to wear an animal costume as well. Just for fun. (Admit it! I know you want to!)

And finally, this dog will make you feel so f***ing lazy –because you’re watching this from behind your laptop whilst wearing sweatpants and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream – which will hopefully encourage you to hit the gym more often to prevent having to buy gigantic holiday pants.

  • Do Burpees

This one is closely linked to the previous item on the list. If you want to avoid those holiday love handles, you have to start now! So come on, do those burpees! Yes, I’m aware that they are absolutely awful. They are absolutely terrifying. But will they have an effect? Absofuckinglutely.

a-da-mo-1

  • Listen to Frank Sinatra

Since it is not even December yet, some people may consider it to be a bit early to start listening to Wham or Ricky Martin Christmas songs. Not to mention singing along to Christmas carols! That is why I suggest you start getting into a Christmas mood by listening to dear oll’ Frank. Mister Sinatra is able to recreate that lovely, cozy Christmassy atmosphere without actually having to use words such as “Christmas tree” or “Santa”.

  • Make soup

Although there is no direct correlation between soup and Christmas, stirring in a large pot of soup makes me feel all fuzzy and warm inside, just like Christmas does. These past couple of weeks I’ve gone all out on the soup front. I’ve made some exotic Garam masala and coconut pumpkin soup with peanut butter. I’ve made Russian beetroot soup with pink peppercorns and vodka (yessss) and yesterday, I conjured up some insane turnip and saffron soup with harrissa roasted pecans.

Sigh.

Needless to say that I couldn’t be in a better mood. A soupy state of mind truly is the best way to roll into the Christmas season.

So these are my seven weird ways to get into a Christmas spirit. What are yours?

10 reasons why you need to go and see Miss Julie

Published October 26, 2014 by The Feminist

409670.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, I do absolutely love living in Belgium.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

When another quality chocolate shop opens just a couple of blocks away from my apartment.

When there is a public holiday and I don’t have to go to work.

When it’s Film Fest Ghent.

Now, let me talk to you about that last one. Film Fest Ghent is my hometown’s very own film festival. It might not be as famous as the one in Berlin, and it is definitely not as glamorous as the one in Cannes, but it does have quite a lot of good films to offer.

And one of those films was “Miss Julie” with none other than Irish eye-candy Colin Farrell and my personal style icon Jessica Chastain. This movie, at first glance, may seem like your everyday Jane Austen-inspired tear jerker, but let me tell you: it is nothing of the sort. If I were to describe it, I would rather say it is a mash-up of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Silver Lining’s Playbook, covered in some Pride & Prejudice cling film.

This film is abso-freakingly bonkers!

Needless to say, I loved it. And this is why:

  • Jessica Chastain

Like I said, I adore her. Not only does she demonstrate that you can be a successful Hollywood actress and not be blonde, but more importantly: the woman can act. Really act. Like, lump-in-throat act.

Her performance as Miss Julie is nothing short of stunning. She plays the ultimate spoiled brat, the drama Queen, and her character’s love for drama makes my own theatrical tantrums seem pretty minute, but Jessica is able to give all this intense drama a very human and believable edge. With a part like hers, it is always dangerous to start over-acting, but Miss Chastain knows what she’s doing. And man, it is an absolute joy to watch her.

  • Colin Farrell

The fact that the guy is easy on the eyes is something we have known for a very long time (after all ,we are not blind), but the fact that the guy can act (I mean really act) still surprises me from time to time. He is absolutely brilliant in his role as tormented soul and lover and his Irish accent is just to die for.

  • It’s drama!

You know me. I like a bit of theatre, and this film is drama from beginning till end.

  • These people are f***ing insane!

Both Miss Julie and Jean are bonkers. Schizophrenia, various compulsive disorders, panic attacks, delusional ramblings, you name it.

These people are so crazy, it kinda made me feel good about myself in a weird, slightly superficial way. Because yes,  I may be weird and bizarre from time to time, but at least I don’t go chopping off canaries’ heads. Which leads me to the next point:

  • (spoiler alert!) There is a dead canary!

And it is hilarious! Not because I like to see dead animals, of course not (that would be horrible!), but because it looked so incredibly fake it more resembled a Wallace & Gromit clay puppet than an actual bird.

  • The melancholic “I think I’m about to cry” -musical score

Bring on those tissues!

  • The dialogues!

The chemistry between Farrell and Chastain is undeniable and there are some pretty fab dialogues to prove it. The language-freak in me was on a two-hour high.

jessica-chastain-colin-farrell-miss-julie

  • The monologues!

Applause for Miss Chastain, because that one monologue were Miss Julie absolutely lost it (I mean, even more than her already pretty fucked up usual self) and went totally crazy, was Oscar-worthy. Yes, Oscar-worthy!

  • There is wine!

The movie made me thirsty. That says enough, right?

wine-wednesday-17

  • And last but not least: there’s a cute dog!

Who doesn’t like a cute dog?

Turning Savory into Sweet: White Wine, Apple & Thyme Cake

Published May 19, 2014 by The Feminist

DSCN3860

White wine… apples… thyme… When you hear these ingredients together, you would immediately assume that they are about to be turned into a lovely savory dish. Something hearty. Something blokey. Something French.

For the sake of proper evidence, I googled these three ingredients and the first things that pop up are recipes for chicken, pork chops and gravy.

Q.E.D

Quod erat demonstrandum

Google does not know what he’s missing. (I’m calling  Google a he, since not picking up on stuff is something men tend to do a lot. ) Indeed, white wine, apples and thyme are delicious in savory dishes. You won’t hear me denying that. But once you’ve ever tasted these in a sweet dish, the savory version will be a bit like eating canned ravioli when you know what the real/fresh stuff tastes like.

You might be wondering how I came up with the idea of throwing these three ingredients into a cake. Well, since my last bake was a very traditional one (remember the strawberries and cream roulade?), I really wanted to do something absurd this time. Something with alcohol. So then I started going over the types of booze I had not used in desserts yet (not that many left, I have to admit), and came up with white wine. And since white wine, apples and thyme are such a classic combination, the idea of turning it into a cake kinda created itself.

Needless to say: this cake rocks! The white wine gives the cake a very fruity flavour and adds plenty of richness and moisture. This cake, however, won’t make you drunk. Almost all of the wine evaporates in the oven, but the wine flavour remains. The touch of thyme creates an unusual herby tingling on your tongue and works remarkably well surrounded by sugary ingredients. Moreover, I used apple sauce instead of fresh apples. Not only did this add extra moisture and sweetness, it also was part of my “avoid using butter” plan.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

This cake contains no butter. Zero. None. Instead I used apple sauce and Greek yoghurt.

It worked out splendidly! (Surely, I deserve a medal of some sort now? )

DSCN3862

Ingredients

  • 250 grams self-raising flour
  • 150gr Greek yoghurt
  • 200gr apple sauce
  • 175 grams caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, plus some extra to decorate
  • 100 grams ground almonds
  • 6 tablespoons white wine, 4 extra tbsp for the drizzle
  • Honey, optional

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the yoghurt and sugar together. Gradually add the beaten eggs, then gently fold in the flour and ground almonds. Fold in the apple sauce, the thyme and then the white wine and pour the mix into the tin. Garnish with some extra thyme twigs and drizzle over some honey. Bake for 1 hour, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp of wine with 2 tsp of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Once the cake comes out of the oven, pour the wine syrup over the hot cake and let it soak up all the yummy liquid.

 

 

Cooking with Booze: Pumpkin Soup with Chimay and Cheddar + Chocolate and Cointreau Bread Pudding

Published November 12, 2013 by The Feminist

booze

“I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” This famous quote by kitchen goddess Julia Child is one that seems to be coined just for the likes of me. Mark my words: if I ever get my own place, with a very large kitchen (mandatory, as you might have guessed) , I want that quote engraved above the stove, so I can look at it every day while I’m stirring my stew/risotto/soup and sipping from a ridiculously large glass of rose wine…

Just for the record, I am not some closet alcoholic. I like my glass of chardonnay in the weekend, my cocktail when I go out and the stronger stuff (Mr. Whiskey or Ms Amaretto) when I feel a bit down or under the weather (nothing better to cure a cold than a jalapeno shot!), but I never get drunk, have never been hung over (can’t believe I’m saying this out loud) and (since it’s confession time, I might just well add the following) I don’t like beer.

There. I said it. The big secret is out.

But what I lack in the “let’s drink loads of alcohol to have fun!” department, I make up for in the “let’s give this sauce a good splash of booze”-section. I love adding alcohol to my dishes. It gives the most lovely depth of flavour to practically any dish. It turns a sauce into a work of art, a venison stew into a well of rich divinity and a cake into a heavenly delightful piece of paradise. It intensifies the experience of cooking and eating. It makes even the most ordinary dish look outrageously decadent and gives richness in a way it would even make Will Smith’s big fat bank account sneak off in embarrassment!

So here are two dishes that are ridiculously easy to make (and may sound quite ordinary if you leave out the booze) but with that little touch of alcohol they are transformed into a brilliant image of culinary madness!

Pumpkin soup with Cheddar, Chimay and crispy pancetta
Like I said, I don’t drink beer. Pouring plenty of it in food, on the other hands, is one of my culinary trademarks. Chimay is one of Belgium’s best known beers. It may seem completely bonkers to add it to a soup, but the beer adds such great flavour to the sweetness of the butternut.

soup

Ingredients:
• 1 large butternut, cut into chunks
• 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
• 1 large onion, cut into chunks
• 1 -1,5 l vegetable stock
• 1 bottle of Chimay Triple Trappist (33cl)
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• 150gr grated matured cheddar cheese
• Slices of pancetta

Method:
1. Heat a knob of butter in a large pot and sauté the veg for a couple of minutes. Add the beer and bring to the boil.
2. Add the stock and the spices. Let it simmer for at least half an hour.
3. Mix the soup until you get a smooth and velvety texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cheddar cheese and let it melt.
4. Meanwhile, put your slices of pancetta on a baking tray and put them under a grill until they get all golden brown and crispy.

Chocolate and Cointreau bread pudding
Bread pudding is a very traditional dessert here in Belgium (and probably in the Netherlands and Germany as well). It is our version of the British all-time favourite bread and butter pudding but if I may be so frank: this version is way better than the version they serve across the Channem. Just saying.
Oh, and I added a good splash of Cointreau as well, which made this pudding even more special!

DSCN3405

Ingredients:
• 375gr stale bread
• 75gr dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 80gr sugar
• 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
• 3 eggs
• 5dl milk
• 4 tbsp cointreau
• 3 tbsp orange marmalade
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• ¼ tsp ginger
• Pinch of salt
• One Clementine, for decoration (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease a flat loaf tin with plenty of butter. Heat the milk, sugar, cocoa powder and spices on a low heat and let it infuse for 15 minutes.
2. Cut the bread into small morsels and add a good pinch of salt. Pour the milk on top of the bread and let the bread soak up all the moisture. Mash the gloopy bread together until you get an incorporated, semi-smooth mixture.
3. Stir in the eggs. Now finally stir in the marmalade, chocolate and cointreau.
4. Pour the batter into the tin, decorate with Clementine and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

DSCN3406

Feel Good Friday: De-Stress your Weekend with these Happy Songs

Published October 4, 2013 by The Feminist

It’s almost weekend: A time usually associated with peaceful tranquility, joyful bliss and the –what I like to call- “art of doing nothing”. It is a truth so damn evident that we often seem to take it for granted. Tell me something, dear readers: when was the last time you actually had a relaxing weekend?

thinking

Hu? Hu? Hu?

i don't know

My guess is that it was a very long time ago. Instead you probably always end up with a hectic frenzy, trying to cram as many chores as possible into those two days and sabotaging your mental health with a ridiculously long to-do list. Don’t get me wrong, organizing one or two weekend endeavors can indeed be quite beneficial for your social life, but you have to make sure that between all the social activities, you still have some time left for the most important person on the planet: yourself.

This is where the following song list comes in, because what better way to de-stress your weekend than with a soundtrack of happy music? Promise me something: when you come home from the office or school this evening, take off your shoes, open up a bottle of Pinot Noir (or something stronger, I don’t care as long as it makes you happy)and put on a couple of happy tunes. I can assure you that –all of a sudden- you will be in a spiritual state of blissful happiness!

feelgood friday

1) I just wanna make love to you- Etta James


No comment. This is just the BEST.SONG.EVER! Forget Coca Cola Light! With this song, you won’t need caffeine to get absurdly happy!

2) Age- Lianne La Havas


Doesn’t this song just make you giggle? The music video is super cute, the melody is superbly cheerful and the lyrics are spot on: “Is it such a problem if he’s old? As long as he does whatever he is told!” So in the very hypothetical situation that Hugh Jackman, George Clooney or Johnny Depp would stand on my doorstep, I at least have some very appropriate lyrics to fall back on 😉

3) Treasure- Bruno Mars


I really can’t see why you wouldn’t looove this song! It has all the right elements to make you smile: sweet lyrics, good funky beat, crazy-ass dance moves and a ridiculously hot singer.
“Pretty girl, you should be smiling!” Oh Bruno, I most certainly am!

4) L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole


If there ever was such a thing as “My life: the Movie” this would so be the soundtrack. This is by far the best cheer-up song on the planet!

5) Talk Dirty- Jason Derulo feat. 2 Chainz


Admittedly, after a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir all social restraints seem to have left my body and all I want to do is shake my booty in a very Miley Cyrus-like way. *Blush* But hey, it’s Friday night, the weekend has just begun and it is after all supposed to be “me-time”, right? So go ahead, girl! Shake what ya mamma gave ya!

Just Beet It: Red Wine and Beetroot cake with orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Published August 25, 2013 by The Feminist

DSCN3180

Technically it may still be summer, but when I was looking outside my kitchen window this morning, there were absolutely no signs indicating that these months are supposed to be the hottest of the year. All I could see were grey clouds, and although such droopy whether would usually make me feel rather depressed, this morning I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement about the prospect of cooler weather.

Sipping hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, going for a walk in the woods with your favourite scarf tied on tight, listening to Michael Bublé whilst taking a long, hot bath,… Suddenly I couldn’t wait for autumn to arrive!

So inspired by this autumn vibe, I decided to start the fall a little bit early this year and conjured up something truly wonderful: a red wine and beetroot cake with an orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Or as I like to call it: the Glühwein cake.

For those of you who don’t own a copy of “Famous Alcoholic Beverages for Dummies”, Glühwein is a mulled wine and is incredibly popular in Germany (where it originated), other German- speaking countries and with us Belgians ( because we know a good drink when we see one!). It is a heavenly aromatic warm red wine, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange and his this remarkable capacity to make you forget all your troubles (and manners, sometimes) and to fill you with warmth and joy. It’s like an electric blanket… but with alcohol. It’s awesome!

So all these flavours inspired me to make this cake. Cinnamon, red wine and mixed spice went into the cake batter, and orange and cinnamon were blended in with the honeyed cream cheese frosting… Sigh. I really do have very good ideas from time to time.

A second key ingredients in this cake is beetroot. You can’t bake an autumn-inspired cake without using any root vegetables. You just can’t. That would be sacrilege. Carrots, parsnips, even turnips! When the weather gets cold, you simply have to use them in a cake! It’s a rule.

I love the earthy sweetness of the beetroot and its majestic red colour so I made the humble beetroot my root vegetable of choice this time. The red beetroot is a match made in heaven with the red wine!

Although the raw batter looked burgundy red, the cooked cake more resembled a chocolate cake, rather than a deep red velvet cake. I didn’t mind. I’d much rather prefer a cake that looks homemade than something that seems to have come straight out of a chemistry lab. If you want to enhance the redness of the cake, you could add food colouring but, like I said, I really don’t think it would do this cake justice.

PS: You may have noticed that this is my second beetroot recipe in a row. Now before you start assuming that I may have some sort of beetroot addiction: I don’t. I just had a lot of beetroot lying around in my kitchen and I didn’t want anything to go to waste! How ecologically sound of me!

DSCN3174

Red wine and beetroot cake with a cinnamon and orange cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

For the cake:
• 2 eggs
• 80gr butter
• 250gr cooked beetroot
• 60ml red wine
• 180gr light brown sugar
• 170gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp mixed spice
• ¼ tsp salt

For the frosting
• 100gr cream cheese
• 1 tbsp honey
• Zest of half an orange
• ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Puree the cooked beetroot in a blender together with the red wine until you get a smooth paste.
3. Mix together the red wine and beetroot puree with the eggs, sugar and butter until combined. (At this stage the mixture will look slightly curdled, don’t worry, it will all work out in the end 😉 )
4. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes.
6. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
7. For the frosting, whisk together all the ingredients and spoon the frosting onto the cake. Spread out evenly with a palette knife.

I’m gonna make you a dinner you can’t refuse: The Codfather

Published April 16, 2013 by The Feminist

DSCN2652

I know, I know, this may not be the world’s most inventive pun but humor me for a second here. I believe that I have every right to call my dish the Codfather. Not only because it was an Italian dish with Sicilian influences, but also because it was BY FAR the best cod I had ever tasted! It was so absolutely scrumptious, I would gladly commit a crime just to defend its deliciousness.

Just imagine a beautiful piece of cod fillet… roasted in the oven with a topping of sundried tomato spread and fragrant olives… served with a comforting Mediterranean vegetable and basil risotto…

jawdrop

Trust me, you would be willing to get your hands dirty too, If you could have this on your plate for dinner! 😉

The codfather

Ingredients:

• 4 pieces of cod fillet
• 200gr semi-sundried tomatoes, on oil
• ½ small red chilli pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic, one for the spread and one for the risotto
• 100gr marinated green olives
• 350gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 courgette, finely diced
• 1 red pepper, finely diced
• 250gr cherry tomatoes, quartered
• Bunch of basil leaves
• 200ml white wine
• Vegetable stock
• 30gr pecorino cheese

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
2. Put the semi-dried tomatoes in a blender together with the chilli and one clove of garlic.
3. Spread this lovely paste on top of each cod fillet and put some halved olives on top.
4. Put the fillets in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with olive oil. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, sauté the chopped garlic and onion in some olive oil until soft.
6. Add the rice and stir well for a couple of minutes.
7. Add the wine and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.Then add the finely diced courgette and red pepper. Season with some salt and pepper.
8. Add a ladleful of the vegetable stock to the pan and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until nearly all of the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladleful of the stock. Repeat the process until the rice is cooked but still al dente.
9. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and grate in the pecorino cheese
10. Finish the risotto with lots of fresh basil.